5 Ways Experiential Learning Improves Performance

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photo by Javier Allegue Barros

Adults may spend less time as students once they enter the workforce. Still, we all like to learn, and often we can do our jobs better and will like our companies better when we’re given professional development opportunities. Experiential learning is one great way to improve performance. Here are five of the many reasons why.

#1 Hands-On Helps.

Back when you were in school, did you enjoy listening to a teacher lecture you? Why do you think a potential business partner or your sales reps will be any different? Experiential learning environments provide a concrete way to communicate with people instead of relying on instruction driven by powerpoint slides in the typical office setting.

In work for Samsung, the Tara Wilson Agency team created an interactive and memorable multi-city tour of an experiential learning environment to inform and excite MetroPCS reps about the key features of a brand new Samsung device. One of several immersive stations was a real-life, interactive shopping environment with grocery shelves equipped with food items so the brands’ MetroPCS reps could test the power and usefulness of the Bixby voice-powered assistant.

#2 Appeals to Multiple Senses

Experiential learning environments also go beyond hands-on immersion. They can actually offer a multi-sensory immersion. As part of the interactive learning about Samsung’s new product line, training attendees were equipped with Samsung’s latest Galaxy device and immersed in the darkness of a low-light photo booth to experience first-hand the innovation behind the phone’s new low-light camera.

The only source of knowledge is experience — Einstein

#3 Better Knowledge Retention.

According to Ebbinghaus’ learning curve theory, during a lecture, if the absorption rate is 100 percent on day one, you’ll lose 50–80 percent of the learning from the second day onward. By the end of 30 days, you’ll be looking at a retention rate of just 2–3 percent.

So, while hands-on learning is not only more engaging, it is also typically more memorable. Fully engaging people in their education makes it more likely that they can internalize the message given and recall it after the experience is over.

#4 Makes Theory Real.

Forbes Coaches Council member Kris McCrea Scrutchfield noted, “experiential learning provides the learner with instant feedback and the ability to reflect on what to keep doing, what to tweak and repeat, or what to change altogether.” Instructors on-hand can provide support, ask questions to solidify learning, and prompt reflection to encourage critical thinking and help make theory real.

Additionally, the reality extends to the variety of perspectives encountered in the experiential environment. Although writing in the educational context, Envision’s observation that experiential learning better mimics “real” society holds true in the B2B context too. There is value in the variety of perspectives and the personalization of the learning as “each student’s learning experience will be guided by [his or her] unique past experiences, and thus each will interact with the information and the task in different ways — and with different results.”

#5 Promotes Shared Experience.

This type of learning encourages individuals to work together, learn together, and experience together. These shared experience can promote connections among colleagues. Plus, they are typically able to relax and have more fun in these types of environments, which lets them have a positive interaction with team members outside of the regular parameters of work.

Overall, experiential learning immediately involves participants in the act of problem solving. Engaging in the act of doing, in a simulated environment (safer than the real world with actual consequences), also promotes higher participant ownership of their learning. But you can’t just believe me because I told you so — you’ll have to experience it for yourself!

About Jeff
I’m a color commentator trapped in the body of a marketing strategist. So, while the marketing guy consults; the color commentator writes these articles. You can connect with me on Linkedin.

Agency Advisor :: I help marketing agencies scale their business.

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